St Annes Old Links - Lancashire - England

St Annes Old Links Golf Club,
Highbury Road,
St Annes-on-Sea,
Lancs,
FY8 2LD,
England


  • +44 (0)1253 723597

  • Mrs Jane Donohoe

  • George Lowe, Sandy Herd

  • Daniel Webster


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at St Annes Old Links

The Fylde Coast is famous for its golden sandy beaches, promenades, piers and of course its famous tower, which dominates the skyline. Blackpool Tower – a half size copy of the Eiffel Tower – was completed way back in 1894, but golf at St Annes Old Links Golf Club was first played years before the tower had even reached the drawing board.

Running parallel with each other, the 10th and 18th holes at St Annes Old Links are all that now remains of the original St Annes Golf Club. The spread of late Victorian home building forced the St Annes club to relocate to southern side of the bustling seaside town, now the esteemed home of the Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club. But, with great foresight, a number of keen golfers came together in 1901 to re-establish a course on the vacant site. George Lowe, the club’s first professional, laid out the original nine holes and, nine years later, Sandy Herd extended the course to eighteen holes.

St Annes Old Links is a challenging layout and it has been used for numerous championships, including Open Qualifying in conjunction with Royal Lytham & St Annes. The course is flat, windswept and stark where little other than a few twisted trees survive the fierce westerly winds. This pure links course is a certainly a challenge and the best holes are to be found on the southern edge, nearest the clubhouse.

The 9th is the most famous hole at St Annes Old Links with its long green, which is hardly visible from the tee. According to reports, Bobby Jones took detailed measurements of this hole, called “Cannon”, when playing here during the 1926 Open. Perhaps a similar hole is in play somewhere in America?

There are three links courses in and around Lytham St Annes. Royal Lytham and St Annes needs no introduction, but if you include St Annes Old Links alongside Fairhaven and its Royal neighbour, then you will have played them all.

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Reviews for St Annes Old Links

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Description: Bobby Jones loved ("Cannon") the par three 9th hole at St Annes Old Links Golf Club so much that he took detailed measurements and perhaps reproduced some aspects at Augusta. Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 15
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Keith Baxter

Cheerless is one word I’d use to describe SAOL. Too many parallel holes run broadly in a north south direction making the going unpleasantly tough when the prevailing wind is blowing across the course. The monotony of the up and down routing is unfortunately only broken up by the par threes at the 3rd, 13th, and 16th.

The 9th “Cannon” is a wonderful par three, of course, facing back at the clubhouse, set in a dune-cloaked amphitheatre, and so is “Keepers Trap” the brutal west-facing par three 16th with its crowned and well-bunkered greensite. Both these one shot holes would grace any Open Championship links course, but sadly there’s not a lot else here that tickles my fancy.

Invariably in good condition, SAOL does play firm and fast, which I enjoy, but its unremarkable, flat canvas, flanked by a main road, a railway line, houses, an airport and the backdrop of Blackpool’s garish Pleasure Beach to the north, does nothing whatsoever for my personal sensibility.

Many wax lyrically about SAOL and draw a comparison with its illustrious regal neighbour. In my opinion, the contrast between the two is marked. Both these links courses have drab suburban surroundings and both are laid out on flat ground. But that’s where the comparison ends. If SAOL had a fraction of RL&SA’s elegant shaping it might deserve to be in the discussion.

Despite being a links lover, the main reason I’m not enamoured by SAOL is largely down to the incongruous mounds that masquerade as miniature dunes. In many cases these humps look like they were dropped off by a truck and then grassed over without any thought to shaping. Put simply, they look artificial.

However, if you enjoy being tested on a tough, windy and well-presented links course, then SAOL will tick those boxes. And the two aforementioned par threes are stellar and more than worthy of the modest entrance fee.

December 01, 2019
5 / 10
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Steve

Whilst always a firm favourite of mine, especially having been the GM back in 2007, I just had to leave a review after visiting St Anne’s Old Links GC today for the first time in a number of years.

Given the time of year and the amount of rain we have had recently, I felt I just had to sing the praises of the course. Playing with a colleague from Manchester we were both constantly and pleasantly surprised by the overall condition we found the course presented in.

The general appearance of the course, given we were heading for winter, was really good and tidy. As to the playing conditions, whilst there were a few temporary tees, notable on the par 3's, the competition tees were in excellent condition. The fairways were dry and the greens, for the time of year, were fantastic, running true with really good pace. Even the bunkers in play were in great condition.

Made me remember how fortunate the members of links courses are at this time of year.

One of the key reasons for the visit however was to see the forced changes to the 4th hole as the Club look to reduce the risk of errant tee shots finding the gardens of the houses backing onto the course. I was pleased to see that some subtle planting to the front right of the teeing area together with new bunkering down the left and lateral movement of the left hand side fairway mound, have all created a "safer" line off the tee without detracting from the overall strength of what I always found was a tough par 4.

The welcome from Jane and her team in the office to Johnny in the Pro Shop was as warm and welcoming as I remember and given the winter green fee, a visit is terrific value and makes for a great day out at this time of year.

In summary, biased - probably, honest - definitely.

November 25, 2019
9 / 10
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Dan Hare
November 27, 2019

I like St Anne's Old Links, along with Fleetwood a good value traditional links in the area, but no way is it 5.5 balls. It is extremely flat with only vestigial dunes being at the signature last 3. Airfield next door, ponds, some green runway holes... Over rating a course is counter productive.

Ed Battye

St Annes Old Links sits amongst distinguished guests along England's North West coast. It holds its own.

However, this is a different type of course compared to some of the big names in this part of the country. It is flatter and more expansive than its neighbours but is still a true test of your game and must be respected.

Like all links courses the wind can have a huge impact on the way a course plays. The routing of St. Annes Old Links does consist of 'two loops' of nine, bringing you back to the clubhouse at the halfway stage (more on that later) but many of the holes run in a similar direction, therefore, you are often faced with the same wind direction on a lot of the holes. The course has four par 3's and it is mostly these that run in a different direction to the longer holes.

I wasn't a huge fan of St. Annes Old Links when I played it for the first time over two decades ago. Over the years I've become more impressed with it after each visit and always look forward to my next round. There are some really well placed bunkers and you need to think your way round the course at times. It offers much to ponder whilst walking between shots. Trains regularly pass down the side of the 17th and 18th at regular intervals whilst a flurry of planes landing and taking off from bordering Blackpool airport can be seen. The backdrop of Blackpool Tower and the Big Dipper are visible on most of the holes too.

The main downside for me (even most of the best courses have one) is that on some of the holes you can be better off wider of the (well placed) fairway bunkers. Miss the hazards and you usually have a shot from the rough or an adjacent fairway. I suspect for national championships, of which the course hosts many, the rough will be more exacting but the fundamental principal remains the same.

The lack of sea views, huge dunes and rolling fairways may not appeal to some, others may not like the openness of looking across several fairways and a few may not appreciate the subtleties of the greens, however, as a test of golf it will examine every sinew of your game. Lovers of true links golf understand St. Annes Old Links.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

May 12, 2017
7 / 10
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Dan Hare

This review is not adjusted for value for money, which is undeniable in this mostly over priced area.

This is an honest old links course that is mostly flat, true running with firm greens that you can putt to from almost anywhere.

Nice 2 9's out and back layout with a stand out hole (9) that is as good as sadly it is out of character from the rest of the flattish course.

Good, honest, old style, unspectacular links golf well worth a game if you like this sort of thing (which I do!).

July 15, 2016
6 / 10
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Warren

St Annes is a decent, honest links course set over some fairly flat land. It has some special holes, namely 9 & 10 that play in an around some heavy dunes and the long finishing holes will test you. All of the par 3s were very good but to be honest I can't recall a lot of the par 4s and I played last week. I know I didn't have any issues with conditioning, greens or design and I certainly didn't have any issues with price. Expecting to pay the advertised 50pd afternoon rate I instead got the half price, unadvertised twilight rate, an hour early. Many thanks to the pro who suggested this. So for VFM, as per the argument below, SAOL is a 7 baller along with Kings Links in Aberdeen which was 8pds and Birkdale is stripped back to 3 balls, but I don't consider cost so a strong 4 balls. The course is a rugged little course, kind of reminded me a bit of Panmure but not quite as gnarly or interesting. Warren from Australia

July 13, 2016
6 / 10
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John Russell
Played here with a group of 9 visiting golfers in late Sept 2013. Made to feel very welcome both in the clubhouse and on the course. The course was in excellent condition. Good fast greens and rough not too punishing for higher handicap players hence did not need to spend hours looking for lost balls as one can sometimes do on other links courses. The view is not pretty but the golf is very good. Price is one third of the nearby open courses and less that half of Hillside and S and A. If you are a single figure golfer you might appreciate the sterner challenge of the more expensive courses but for most average golfers I would thoroughly recommend a round at The Old links .
September 25, 2013
10 / 10
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Hugh
September 25, 2013
SAOL is average to good at best. Excellent it is not. 4 balls at most.
John
October 02, 2013
I don't think Hugh really read my review properly. If you want to play the top courses in the area pay between £125 and £170. In my view rating depends on vfm. If you are an accomplished single figure player £170 per round might seem money well spent. For a mid to higher hcp player a round at StAnnes for one third of the cost at Royal Lytham bears comparison
BB
April 02, 2017

I think Hugh did read your review correctly - you gave the course a 6 ball rating and he simply said it's not worth that. He's right.

It's good that you call out value for money - it's important and useful info- but courses on this site should ideally be ranked purely on the quality of the golf course experience

Warren
April 03, 2017

I tend to agree with BB, value is an important consideration but if it is going to be a main criteria then Kings Links up at Aberdeen at 8 quid gets 6 balls. To me St Annes is good value and a strong 4 balls whether I played it for 30 pounds or 130.

Patrick McGarey
I played here on a perfect sunny/breezy day in July 2012, with a very friendly member (thanks, John!), several days after Open qualifying had taken place. I find it hard to believe that the Old Links are not ranked among England's top 100. Though the the course is rather flat as noted, it required strong shot-making in order to score well and the rather penal rough (a function of both recent rain and the set-up for the aforementioned Open qualifying) put a premium on accurate driving. Course conditioning was top rate and the green fee was quite reasonable. Many strong holes, with the par3 #9 especially memorable and well-designed. Committed players might want to consider palying this course and Royal Lytham as part of a 36 hole day, as the courses are quite close to one another. Friendly staff (thanks Ann!) as well.
July 11, 2012
6 / 10
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Vorndron
Played here 16th Feb as part of the winter 4 ball deal, which is fantastic value by the way. The first point I must make is that the welcome from the pro shop and the clubhouse staff is first class. The course is pretty much a flat pancake which is pretty open too (i'm sure they grow the rough up in summer) but if graded as we played it there isn't too much to worry yourself about off the tee. The fairways were superb and the greens ran very true considering the recent weather and the time of year. Some good holes, the 9th as every says is a great hole, and with two par 5's to finish with it gives the opportunity of birdies. Great value well worth a visit.
February 17, 2012
6 / 10
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Steve Whitby
Played this course on Friday 13th January 2012. Considering the weather we have had recently, I can only describe the course as awesome. dry as bone everywhere. Perfect fairways greens had been recently tined but you could tell they will be fast when it gets warmer. Why is this course only 120th? Played loads of top 100 courses over the last 12 months and not many were as good as this. I can see why its the venue for the 2012 final Open qualifying. Well worth a visit
January 14, 2012
10 / 10
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Nial
January 14, 2012
St Annes Old Links is the third best course in the area behind Royal Lytham and Fairhaven. Royal Lytham is just worthy of a 6-ball rating but SAOL is barely worth 4 balls. It has one great hole and a couple of good holes but too many are very average having zero architectural merit.
dan
March 05, 2012
I would have to agree that SAOL is a good, fun, friendly 4 out of 6, certainly not a 6. The holes around the pond out towards the north end are average to say the least.
James
June 08, 2012
I can't take those comments seriously. Can only assume you belong to one of the local clubs. It's worth the high rating. Obviously you can't really compare FH, LGD with SAOL as they are completely different types of courses. One thing is for sure that there is a leap in quality between FH to Royal and SAOL.
Ben Musgrove
Well what better way to start 2010, than driving from Leeds to Blackpool to tee off at 11am (dedication at its best!!). I'm glad I did however as I had a great day! I was very surprised that the course was even open let alone it not be on frost greens. I have to say though the greens were rock solid which made chipping onto them extremely hard to impossible. However once on the putting surface they ran very true. The best hole on the course for me was the 9th, a par 3, boat shaped green, hole, that has you aiming towards an architecturally pleasing club house. The front 9 holes are nice but aren’t anything special, the back 9 holes however were great and demanded accuracy. My highlight of the round was when both my playing partner and I drove the green of a 354 yd par 4. I have awarded 4 balls to this course mainly due to the conditions whilst I played, you can’t get a true feeling for the course whilst it’s like concrete in places. I also think that the front 9 holes were just average and although the back 9 were great it’s the whole 18 holes that count. The pro shop wasn’t anything to shout about either; the club house looked great however non members didn’t go anywhere near this which was a shame. All in all though I think the course is worth the money and I’m looking forward to returning in the summer where I will provide another (hopefully better scoring) review.
January 02, 2010
6 / 10
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